It’s been a while since I last posted something on my hōgen blog. Not that I haven’t wanted to. It’s just that I’ve been terribly busy with other projects, two of which are finally coming to an end. With luck, I should be able to write more about the two dialects I find particularly interesting: namely, the Okinawan dialect (including the Ryūkyūan language) and Kagoshima dialect.
But, for the time being, allow me to relate a funny conversation I had with my wife a few summers ago.
As my wife’s parents live a short walk from the sea, we often take our boys to play at the beach. Like many beaches in Japan, the one at Seaside Momochi has a large net that is designed to keep the jellyfish away from the swimmers. The nets don’t always work—the buggers still manage to get past them—but it is better than nothing.
When my wife was young, she lived in the prefecture of Saitama which lies just northwest of Tōkyō. Every summer, though, her mother would take an older sister and her to the town of Kushikino on the western coast Kagoshima prefecture where their grandparents lived.
Having heard that they used to spend every day at the beach, I asked my wife if she had ever been stung by a kurage (jellyfish).
“Kurage? No,” she answered. “But I was stung by an ira once.”
I had never heard of an ira before so I asked what it looked like.
She said she wasn’t quite sure, but added, “All I remember is that it hurt like the dickens.”
Looking up ira, I discovered that the word was from the Kagoshima dialect and meant—surprise, surprise—kurage.
“Oh, so I have been stung by a jellyfish after all.”
 Kushikino is now called Ichiki-kushikino-shi (いちき串木野市) after the city merged with the neighboring town in 2005. Because neither town was willing to abandon their name, the new city’s was named after a tongue-twisting amalgamation of the two. Apparently, Ichiki-kushikino-shi is the city with the longest name in Japan. So that’s something. For the most ridiculous address in Japan, go here.
 To be precise, ira refers to a specific kind of jellyfish, the andon kurage (行灯海月, Carybdea rastoni) which has a much stronger poison than the more common aka kurage (赤海月, Chrysaora pacifica).